Plus information on emotional support animal rules for Air Canada and WestJet.

American Airlines tightens rules on emotional support animals
American Airlines tightens rules on emotional support animals

In the last year or so, it seems we've seen animals of all shapes and sizes board the plane with fellow passengers.

From furry to feathered, scaly to spiky, airlines around the world have experienced an increase of animals sitting up front, instead of in cargo, because their owners have labelled them support animals.

Years ago, a "support" animal usually referred to a working service dog, but airports have seen everything from support turkeys to hamsters flying economy class.

If the idea of sharing your seat space with a gobbling emotional support turkey or a pet support snake just isn't your cup of tea, good news is on the horizon.

American Airlines is reportedly tightening the rules around which animals can travel as support animals.

According to the CBC, the decision came forward Monday night, and now excludes the following animals from flying, citing health and safety regulations/concerns:

  • Amphibians
  • Insects
  • Rodents
  • Sugar gliders (hand-sized marsupials)
  • Non-household birds
  • Animals with tusks, horns or hooves (but excluding miniature horses trained as service animals)
  • Any animals that are unclean or have an odour

According to the CBC, American Airlines said that service animals must behave like trained service animals--if the animal exhibits any signs of biting, growling, or forms of agression, it will be classified as a pet, and the owner will be responsible for paying the standard handling fee, which is 125 US for a carry-on pet, and $200 US for a pet in checked luggage.

Canadian airlines Air Canada and WestJet both permit service animals on board, but Air Canada only allows dogs, whereas WestJet accepts dogs, cats, miniature horses, pigs and monkeys, so long as they meet the standards and conditions on international flights.

More information on emotional support animal rules for Air Canada can be found here, and here for WestJet.


Written by Christine Hogg

Content and photo courtesy of

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